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6 July 2010

Osborne expected Alan Budd to stay on for at least “a couple” of years

Mystery deepens over why Office for Budget Responsibility chief has insisted on stepping down.

By James Macintyre

We don’t yet quite know why Alan Budd has stepped down as chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility. But a clue may have something to do with a complicated fuss recently over unemployment figures and — as our own Danny Blanchflower has now raised — questions about the body’s independence, of which more to come in this week’s magazine.

But meanwhile, here‘s a little demonstration, from a speech in February this year, of how George Osborne — who, rumour has it, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Sir Alan to stay on — thought he would do at least “a couple of years”. It is dressed up as a self-deprecating joke, to show how the future chancellor would be shedding control over fiscal policy, naturally:

Sir Alan Budd has agreed to chair the Office for Budget Responsibility during this period. No one can doubt his independence, and I want to thank him for taking this important task on.

Whether I thank him in a couple of years’ time is another matter — but that is the whole point.

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Yet the Treasury is still insisting that Sir Alan always planned to leave “in the summer”. There’s plenty more to come out here.